Creation of Independent Research Panel Following Child Abuse Reports

( [email protected] ) Nov 03, 2004 02:10 PM EST

Reports of child abuse in missions that took place decades ago have mobilized the United Methodist church to appoint an independent panel. The three-person panel is set to be formed in December.

The UMC’s Board of Global Ministries designates this panel as a "fact-finding, consultative and primarily pastoral" body. Although it will act as an advisory body and report to the Board at least annually, it will not conclude civil liability issues. The panel’s main purpose is to follow up on the charges made known in a report.

The Presbyterian Church publicly released a report in October 2002 that sexual abuse of missionary children, of whom some were children of Methodist missionaries, occurred between 1945 and 1978 in what is the Democratic Republic of Congo, at both a Presbyterian school in Lubondai and a Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel in Kinshasa.

According to UMNS, the mission agency expressed their appreciation to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for revealing their findings and process: "for creating a model that has proven to be very effective and for sharing their process and experience with us”

After the report was issued, a task force was formed last March by the Rev. R. Randy Day, the chief executive of the Board of Global Ministry, to investigate the findings.

Not only did they comb the report, but they also met with the survivors and explored “possibilities by which healing and wholeness can be pursued."

The independent panel is in charge of investigating allegations of physical and sexual abuse, talking with the victims, and reporting to the "appropriate church authorities" (UMNS).

"The General Board of Global Ministries is committed to care for the survivors who have identified themselves and for those who may yet feel the anguish of abuse suffered as children entrusted to our care and supervision," said the board’s report.

And lastly, the task report recommended that an "Independent Panel for the Review of Child Abuse in Mission Settings” be created.